2013 — 9 September: Monday

Remind me to avoid Bournemouth1 for the time being. Not that the cool drizzle is enticing. Meanwhile the sagacious Mr Fry has just given the UK a vocabulary test. His set of six words purportedly puts me in the top percentile. How kind. (I'm pretty sure I first met "cadenza" courtesy of the 1982 recording of Terry Riley's "Cadenza on the Night Plain" with the Kronos quartet — I don't believe I've ever had reason to use the word.) Shades of Hunter Diack, though that chap's theory wasn't explicitly mentioned.

There's a telling...

... final paragraph to the interesting essay here. Well worth a read:

After training as a theoretical physicist, I took up the harmless occupation of writing novels while many of my contemporaries went into finance. And look where they got us. Optimism is all very well, but sometimes scientists need to be reminded that "fact" is a word to be handled with care.

Andrew Crumey in Aeon

Meanwhile, this review by Francis Wheen of an upcoming book ("The Blunders of our Government" by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe) suggests it might be an interestingly depressing trawl through our mismanaged recent history:

It is a non-partisan finger, since 'governments of all parties appear equally blunder-prone'. But though they include a few debacles from the era of Thatcher and Major — the poll tax, mis-selling of pensions, exit from the ERM — most come from the 13 years of New Labour rule, in a devastating catalogue of calamities that begins with the Millennium Dome, Tony Blair's inheritance from the Tories. He could have ditched it, or at least looked for an alternative. What made up his mind (a point missed by King and Crewe) was a letter from the journalist Simon Jenkins, imploring him to go ahead with the Dome for the sake of young Euan Blair. 'Such events', Jenkins wrote, 'are milestones in a nation's history, but also in a child's life.' And so, to prove his paternal devotion, Blair wasted almost £1 billion on a white elephant in Greenwich. Most ministers were anti-Dome, but none dared defy the PM. As Robin Cook commented ruefully, 'If Tony has made a decision, we'll all have to support it.'

Francis Wheen in Literary Review

Mr Wheen has an entertaining habit of winkling out little details like that about the sociopathic fools and knaves we permit to run our lives.

Yesterday's network glitches appear to have healed, or maybe annealed, perhaps in readiness for tomorrow's enormous wodge of Windows cleaning. I shall update the virtual Linux Mint system in sympathy. I have both lunch and evening meal engagements today to look forward to, plus a couple of Kindle lumps, though actually I finished one of those shortly after midnight. [Pause] Well, that was fun. I'm now running a newer level of VirtualBox with a newer Extension Pack. The network was taken down and brought back up automagically. Now for that Minty refresh... All done.

Niece #1 having been replied to, it's time for me to dress more appropriately for my lunch rendezvous. It's all "go" some days. TTFN.

Rather later...

... I'm back at Tech Towers listening, with some mild feelings of outrage, to the live examination by MPs in committee of the BBC "pay-offs" of 24% of the most senior level of "management". It's good, knockabout comedy. The amount of buck-passing and obfuscation and past failure to challenge the outrageously-generous payments is starting to pass all human understanding. And the patience of the chairwoman.



1  'Tis the season to be political Party Conferencing.